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Sunday, July 02, 2006

ROAST





ALONE IN MY CAVE IT'S CORNFLAKES AND CAMELS AND THE LONG RESTLESS SHADOWS OF MY LIFE

A favourite joke from a favourite comedian:

"I went to a restaurant that serves 'Breakfast at any time'.
So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance."

Breakfast, breakfast, breakfast. According W. Somerset Maugham that’s what you need to eat well in England. No longer true, in London, leastways. But it had been a long time since I had had the Full English (Got your big plate Alan?) so a Saturday morning, only slightly trammelled by the fug of a bourbon hangover, seemed the perfect time to revisit this quintessentially English custom.

Roast is the second restaurant of Iqbal Wahhab (the first being the Cinnamon Club). It had pretty mixed reviews when it opened. The bottom line was: nice room, shame about the food (and service). DH go down to BM at least once a week so I thought a visit from one of the gruesome twosome was overdue. The hottest day of the year seemed like just the right time. We suffer so you, gentle reader, don’t have to.

After a tussle with the Misery Line I entered the rather handsome (and thankfully air-conditioned) dining space and was shown to a nice table with a view over the market. A small cafetiere and a plate of decent hot toast soon followed. Too bad the joe, as I usually find with this delivery system was weak and rather thin. Still it did a job. I also got a glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice which was nice.

My eyes bypassed the delights of “Inverawe Smoked Loch Etive Trout with Scrambled Eggs” and “Tattie Scone with Ayrshire Bacon, Field Mushrooms and a Fried Egg” (whatever that is) and settled upon the “The Full Borough”. This consisted of…well look at the photo.

The sausages were pretty good - meaty and dense. The eggs were cooked well, but the bacon, oh dear oh dear. The small pieces of streaky tasted ok but had had only a brief introduction to the grill. The result was a flaccid piece of pork (something I am only too well acquainted with).

Unfortunately this was a real deal-breaker for me. A decent English breakfast must have good bacon. As Roast is only seconds away from stalls such as Ginger Pig & Sillifield farm it shouldn’t be beyond their wit to obtain a few pounds of decent stuff and cook it properly. It shouldn’t be, but it was. I was also irritated that the coffee refill that was offered came with an unannounced extra charge (shouldn’t refills be free?). The whole thing reminded me of a Conran operation - looks good on the surface but let down by the execution. On the plus side it is a nice room and the service was efficient and friendly. But as a place to have breakfast - not really.

JK Galbraith once said "It takes some skill to spoil a breakfast - even the English can't do it". Sorry Johnny-boy, I’ve found an exception to the rule.

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